Thank @iamjohnoliver and @LastWeekTonight for Supporting Songwriters!

Nice to see John Oliver and Last Week Tonight stand up for the rights of songwriters.  In the last segment of the show Oliver reviewed the permissionless/unlicensed use of songs by various candidates ending with a spoof music video “Don’t use our songs.”   Guest appearances included Nancy and Ann Wilson, Usher, Michael Bolton, Dan Reynolds, Cyndi Lauper, Cheryl Crow, Josh Groban, and John Cougar.  The message was unequivocally clear:  respect the rights and wishes of songwriters.

And of course there was this:

Michael Bolton:  Thank you for not playing me that’s a license you didn’t buy

Josh Groban: If I wanted to sing and not get paid I put my songs on Spotify

While some rights holders are being paid Last Week Tonight is correctly noting the issue with Spotify is that a large percentage of songwriters have not been paid at all.

A heartfelt thank you to  John Oliver and the staff at Last Week Tonight.


The Return of the $50 Handshake: Spotify is Selling Your Fans Data Out the Back Door — Artist Rights Watch

By Chris Castle

What this comes down to is that you are driving fans to Spotify, Spotify is capturing their identifiable information, scraping that into data categories through pattern recognition and other data mining techniques and then profiling your fans to be resold to brands. It’s hard to believe that Google is not involved with this deal somehow. (Don’t forget that Kara Swisher reported in Re/Code that then Google head of business development joined the Spotify board.)

via The Return of the $50 Handshake: Spotify is Selling Your Fans Data Out the Back Door — Artist Rights Watch

Crispin Hunt Appointed BASCA Chairman — Artist Rights Watch

At least there’s one artist rights organization in the UK that’s NOT controlled by Google! Multi-platinum songwriter and producer Crispin Hunt has been appointed chairman of British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Crispin will take over the role from Stephen McNeff who steps down as chairman to concentrate on a major new commission with […]

via Crispin Hunt Appointed BASCA Chairman — Artist Rights Watch

DOJ Shuts Down KickAssTorrents, Seizes Domains, Internet Doesn’t Break

Can we finally put the most outrageous of the Google funded anti-SOPA canards to rest?

The Department of Justice just shut down the massively infringing KickAssTorrent site.  Domains owned* by KAT were seized.  And the Internet didn’t break. Due process was not violated.  Free Speech continues unabated.

NYAN cat still soars

And  ISIS still gets to use twitter and YouTube to broadcast calls to kill westerners.   Stay classy YouTube,  this is why you will never ever replace television.

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YouTube inspiring the next lone wolf attack again!


*The question of whether a domain name is truly owned by whomever  has registered the domain is an open question. The US Commerce department gives ICANN  “coordination role of the Internet’s naming system.”  Among the many powers (derived from the commerce department) it appoints registries for each TLD (Top Level Domain).  Things like .com, .org, .sucks  etc.   These registries then license the use of domain names that are effectively the creation of the US Commerce department through its appointed agent ICANN.  The US Commerce Department could change the contract it has with ICANN forcing it to manage domain names in any way it sees fit. It could even replace ICANN with a different entity  (Considering the fact that ICANN has essentially become the FIFA of the Internet it’s not necessarily a far fetched idea).   Many people in the rest of the world chafe at the notion that the US taxpayers essentially own the internet.  But why shouldn’t we?  We built it. More than any other country we guarantee the integrity of the system.

And I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a democratically elected government (however flawed) run the thing, rather than an unaccountable FIFA type international collection of corrupt despots.


@Savan_Kotecha: The DOJ deals a devastating blow to professional songwriters — Artist Rights Watch

Last week, however, under Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse (a former Wilson Sonsini attorney — Google’s law firm), the DOJ announced that, going forward, it intends to interpret the Consent Decrees to require ASCAP and BMI to only issue licenses for songs they control 100%, up-ending decades of custom and practice. The DOJ’s intention, presumably, is to make life easier for companies like Google, Apple, and Spotify. In doing so, DOJ has created an unworkable solution to a non-existent problem.

via @Savan_Kotecha: The DOJ deals a devastating blow to professional songwriters — Artist Rights Watch

Department of Justice Shuts Down KickAssTorrents

From the DOJ website today:

“Copyright infringement exacts a large toll, a very human one, on the artists and businesses whose livelihood hinges on their creative inventions,” said U.S. Attorney Fardon. “Vaulin allegedly used the Internet to cause enormous harm to those artists. Our Cybercrimes unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago will continue to work with our law enforcement partners around the globe to identify, investigate and prosecute those who attempt to illegally profit from the innovation of others.”

Read more here


Music Creators North America Letter to Department of Justice Opposing Full Work Licensing, Partial Withdrawals — Artist Rights Watch

We begin by stating once again that we strenuously object to the timetable set by the DOJ for the submission of these comments. Unlike the many multi-­‐national, billion-­‐dollar corporations identified by your Division as “interested parties” concerning this matter (including one of the world’s richest, most powerful and influential corporations, Google), our coalition of music creators does not have and cannot afford to maintain an army of antitrust attorneys and experts to immediately prepare a detailed analysis and refutation of the solely telephonic report we were given by DOJ.

via Music Creators North America Letter to Department of Justice Opposing Full Work Licensing, Partial Withdrawals — Artist Rights Watch

@RobertBLevine_ : Apple Proposes Simplified Statutory Licensing Scheme to D.C. — Artist Rights Watch

This afternoon, Apple submitted a preliminary proposal to the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board to simplify the way music-streaming companies pay songwriters and publishers. Apple, which has always had a gift for creative simplicity, wants to make this process easier and more transparent, according to a copy of the filing obtained by Billboard. The company’s proposal to the Copyright Royalty Board suggests a simple, “all-in” statutory rate that would be “fair, simple and transparent, unlike the incredibly complicated structure that currently exists.”

via @RobertBLevine_ : Apple Proposes Simplified Statutory Licensing Scheme to D.C. — Artist Rights Watch

@sisario: Apple, in Seeming Jab at Spotify, Proposes Simpler Songwriting Royalties

Although not perfect this is a step in the right direction. Penny rate instead of an absurd percentage of ad rev calculation.

Artist Rights Watch

Apple, in a government filing on Friday, proposed simplifying the highly complex way that songwriting royalties are paid when it comes to on-demand streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal.

According to Apple’s proposal, made with the Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of federal judges who oversee rates in the United States, streaming services should pay 9.1 cents in songwriting royalties for every 100 times a song is played. This formula would replace the long passages of federal rules for streaming rates, which often leave musicians bewildered about just how the money flows in streaming music.

But even in this seemingly innocuous proposal, which was not made public but was obtained by The New York Times, Apple’s target is clear: Spotify, its archenemy in streaming music. The proposal would significantly raise the rates that Spotify pays, and the filing includes lines that are clearly directed at Spotify and…

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Guest post from Rick Carnes, President, Songwriters Guild of America. 

How many times in a dispute have you heard someone say, “Let’s not a make a Federal case out of this.” Everyone knows that the enormous cost and energy it takes to prosecute a case in Federal Court is beyond the means of most citizens, and rarely makes financial sense, except as to those rare claims for damages in the millions of dollars. But “making a Federal case of it” is exactly what an individual songwriter must currently do under the law if his or her song is used without permission and infringed.

I recall with great dismay the day that I first saw my songs being streamed on YouTube without my consent, and realized the futility of sending a take down notice to protect my rights. When I sent the notice, another unlicensed copy appeared within minutes of the first one being taken down. And then another. And another.

Faced with playing an unwinnable game of ‘Whack-a-mole’ with infringers, I realized that my only other recourse was to file an infringement case in Federal Court against the unauthorized up-loaders which would, ages later, likely end up costing massively more than I could ever collect in damages. The average cost to bring a single, full-blown copyright infringement claim today is estimated to approach $350,000 in legal fees. At the same time, statutory damages for such infringements are currently capped under the US Copyright Act at less than half that amount per title!

The Copyright law is useless to songwriters when the cost of enforcement of our rights far exceeds the compensatory damages able to be recovered against infringers. In response to this conundrum, The Songwriters Guild of America several years ago began promoting the idea of a Copyright Small Claims Court, and we are happy to say that the US Copyright office heard us and recently issued a detailed report in support of the idea.

Today, I am even happier to report that Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries and Tom Marino have responded with the newly introduced the “Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2016”.

We believe that this Bill strikes the right balance between consumers and creators, establishing an alternative, opt-in arbitration system to resolve copyright infringement cases without necessitating the time and expense of filing and defending a “Federal Case.”

Every American should have the right to protect his or her property, whether a lawnmower, a bicycle, or a song. It is long past time for Congress to give music creators a viable way to seek fair remedies when our rights are violated, and we thank both the Copyright Office and the Congressional sponsors for standing up in this regard for the smallest of small business people: American Songwriters.